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Old 10-03-2012, 11:53 AM   #16819
Orygunner's Avatar
Joined: Apr 2012
Location: Western Oregon
Oddometer: 78
Originally Posted by RidingDonkeys View Post
Probably not the right forum here, but I'll bring it up because this question has been nagging me.

I rode bicycles long before I touched a motorcycle. Ultralight road bicycles stop a lot faster than the rider on top of them. It takes very little pressure on the brakes to fully engage them. One finger will lock them if you aren't careful. At high speeds, I would often find myself reaching out with just my pinky to pull the brakes a little to slow down. Never, and I mean never, did I need more than a finger to get full stopping power, and never did my brake handles need to be pulled all the way back to the handlebars to be fully engaged.

Fast forward, and I'm learning to ride a motorcycle. I adopted the same mentality. None of the motorcycles I've owned in thirteen years or riding have ever needed more than a slight tug to engage the clutch or front brake, and none have ever had to be pulled back to the bars to be engaged. I finally took an MSF class and the instructors corrected me for this. I've now taken several more MSF classes, and all the instructors say the same, all four fingers should cover the handles. None, and I mean none, have ever been able to give me a reason why.

When I'm on my sidecar rigs, I'm constantly throwing my body off the tug to counterbalance the weight of the sidecar. Sometimes you need a little more grip on the bars to put yourself back in position, but still need to maintain some control of the clutch for an emergency scenario. The one finger approach works great.

On my hardtails and my cafe racer, keeping all four off the controls works just fine. I've never pinched a finger, had trouble engaging a brake or clutch, etc.

So, what is the importance of having all four fingers on the controls?
I've been asked "Why?" before by a student or two, and here's the reasons why we coach all fingers on the brake (Team Oregon, not MSF):

First is that while 1 or 2 fingers may do fine when performing regular braking, under hard braking the fingers not being used can get pinched under the brake lever, at best pinning the fingers, but at worst, preventing more front brake if more is needed.

The other reason is habit. If the rider only practices braking with two fingers, when it comes to an emergency, how many fingers are they going to use? They're either going to only use two like they've always practiced (which may not be enough strength or precise feel for proper maximum braking, or pin/pinch the other fingers), or they're going to reflexively grab with all their fingers, which they haven't practiced, and will have a tendency to over-brake.

It was slightly awkward when I coached one student to use all four fingers on the brake and he held up his right hand, squeezed two fingers of the glove to show they were empty and said "I lost two and a half fingers in an accident years ago." I replied, "Ok, just use all the fingers you have, then."

2005 Kawasaki Vulcan 2000 Limited
1998 Honda Nighthawk 750
Originally Posted by markk53 View Post
Actually I'm not sure the Vulcan qualifies as a bike... two wheeled tank, maybe....With the 2000's clearance I'm not sure the Vulcan could make it around the tightest curves on a track without having to stop and back up...
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